PR PLAY OF THE WEEK: Rite Aid breathes life into its image

CAMP HILL, PA: Turning around the ocean liner of negative press is

not an easy task, but that's exactly what pharmacy chain Rite Aid's

"With us, it's personal" campaign is doing.

Two years ago, the No. 3 US pharmacy found itself under the microscope

of media scrutiny due to questionable accounting practices that left the

company $6 billion in debt.

Fast-forward two years, and Rite Aid is enjoying a rash of positive

stories in USA Today, the AP, Reuters, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette,

Baltimore's The Sun, and other papers as well as on national news

networks, all toasting its reinvention. With headlines such as "Rite Aid

takes turn onto different path," and "Medicine is working, Rite Aid team

says," the focus of the media attention is on a strong heritage brand

that has weathered the storm, and is surfacing back into the


The $10 million campaign uses a combination of advertising and PR

to highlight how Rite Aid's pharmacists go above and beyond the call of

duty to help their customers.

"Our pharmacists are key to helping us form a personal relationship with

customers," said Sarah Datz, spokeswoman for Rite Aid.

Robinson, Lerer & Montgomery is helping out with implementation of the

campaign, a fundamental PR part of which is a new customer service

program called "Smile." The training program is being taught to

pharmacists and other Rite Aid workers.

The campaign also has been praised by industry observers. "It's

commendable that they're not just gussying up the paint, but that they

are trying to make changes that go beyond the logo," said Hayes Roth, VP

of Landor, a brand-consulting agency.

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